For a summer getaway of sun, style, and sophistication, nothing quite beats Fort Lauderdale. The city in the south of Florida has been known for its wild spring break party tourism, but it’s become an elevated match for the likes of Miami and Key West as a place to see and a place to be seen. And with the city’s dedication to LGBTQ people, you can’t go wrong with a big gay getaway down the coast.
I recently visited the newly remodeled W Fort Lauderdale for a weekend of pampering and partying that rivals the upscale New York hospitality and nightlife scenes. The modern sophistication of the W Hotel brand has been outdone by its Fort Lauderdale location. Last year, the beachside establishment underwent a $55 million facelift, and it showed as I settled in for a stylish sun-soaked weekend.
The remodel presented a new look for every corner of the hotel, from the porte cochére entrance to the Wet Deck to its 517 guest rooms, suites, and residential suites. At the helm of award-winning interior designer Meyer Davis Studio and the W Brand’s global design team, their vision takes influence from the energy of Fort Lauderdale while staying true to the hotel’s bold aesthetic.
Upon finding your room, you immediately feel at home away from home. A soft palette of ocean blues and rose gold give the rooms a soothing beachside motif with new flooring, furniture, lighting fixtures, and contemporary accents. Sweeping ocean views offer a zen beauty from the comfort of your own bed.
After freshening up in your room, go downstairs and grab a late lunch in the Living Room or take a dip at the Wet Deck. Just across the street from the beach, you can also enjoy a pre-dinner barefoot stroll through the sand. Or if you have an appetite for a little adventure, check out a bike from concierge to see the city.
Steak 954 is a prime choice to kick off vacation with a purely indulgent dinner. At the helm of James Beard Award-Winning Chef, Stephen Starr, it’s a contemporary and elevated take on the classic American steakhouse.
Start with a shared plate of the Yellowfin Tuna & Foie Gras Tacos or the Seared Diver Scallops, fresh seafood appetizers to prepare you for the incredible main course. With a wide selection of dry-aged meats, you can’t go wrong. The Rustic Apple Tart is a lovely conclusion to dinner, a sweet and savory take on an American classic.
When you wake up, head down to the W Café in the Living Room for coffee and breakfast. If you’re so inclined, head across the street for Sunrise Yoga Flow on the beach. Otherwise, enjoy some sun on the Wet Deck with a morning dip.
Freshen up for a day trip to Las Olas, a cultural hub for shopping, dining, and art. To get there in style, charter a boat down the canal. It offers a unique view of Fort Lauderdale’s many beautiful estates.
In Las Olas, start off with some retail therapy. Stop by Trésor Rare for some skincare demonstrations and high-quality products to take home. Next door is Elektrik Boutique, a shop full of colorful pieces of clothing, including some by local designers. Follow it up with some art at one of the many local galleries, like New River Fine Art, which includes pieces from Andy Warhol and other master artists, as well as some fresh, contemporary talents.
Walk over to Louie Bossi, a classic Italian eatery with upscale brunch vibes perfect for a weekend of indulgence. Get a table in the lush garden for a beautiful and relaxing dining experience.
Start off with a Prosecco Pop, a black cherry popsicle in a glass of prosecco. Enjoy some fun takes on classic brunch food, like the Scrambled Eggs on Avocado Toast or the Pandoro French Toast. Or go with one of their many savory Italian dishes for the full experience.
After a good nap or an afternoon on the beach, freshen up for a night of entertainment.
Head downstairs to check out the newly opened El Vez. At the helm of Stephen Starr, the popular Mexican eatery makes its southern debut in the W Fort Lauderdale. It’s perfect for some guacamole and margaritas to kick off the evening.
With some tequila flowing through your veins, head upstairs to the Living Room for their nightly live programming. It was recently the venue of a grand and gay celebration of the hotel’s multimillion dollar renovation. Hosted by New York nightlife maven, Susanne Bartsch, the evening featured some of Bartsch’s unique designs and live models in stylish swimwear, as well as a mermaid performer, swimming in the pool above. With DJ White Shadow providing some expert dance music, breakout singer Sabrina Claudio performed some sensual merengue on the Wet Deck. RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10 winner, Aquaria even stopped by to join the festivities.
After a successful night of decadence and celebration, you deserve some room service. Take it on the balcony for breakfast with a view. Or if you’re up for it, take a stroll down the beach for a bite at one of the many local cafes.
Head upstairs for some pampering at the Bliss Spa. Enjoy a massage with an unbeatable beach view. It’s a perfect way to wrap up a weekend getaway.
As you should be fully refreshed and recharged, head out for some light exploring. Rent a paddleboard or kayak from Waterway Adventures and cruise down the canals. Or for some serene outdoor relaxation, stop by Flamingo Gardens. If you’re in a curious mood, check out Billie Swamp Safari.
Back at the hotel, enjoy an early dinner at Sushi Bar. It’s perfect for reconvening over some shared plates. Afterward, enjoy a cocktail at the Living Room bar, where you can sometimes buy a local, Cuban-quality, hand-rolled cigar.
For your final night in Fort Lauderdale, you must take in the local gay nightlife at Wilton Manors. Start off with happy hour at Rumors, a low-key establishment with bar games and iconic local drag. For some quality dancing, walk a few blocks to Hunter’s Nightclub. To get a more local vibe, head next door to Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar, a more intimate spot for dancing and dining.
Nothing epitomizes the spirit of Fort Lauderdale quite like dancing the night away. It’s a perfect conclusion to a perfect weekend getaway of sun and style.